The Premier League has sold the rights to broadcast games for the next three years to Sky and BT in a bumper £5.136 billion deal.
Of the seven TV packages put up for sale, Sky won five, giving them the right to broadcast 126 matches, and agreed to pay £4.2 billion for the privilege. The 83 per cent rise in price will see Sky pay £1.3 billion a year.
Competitor BT picked up the remaining two packages, which are good for another 42 games, at a cost of £960 million overall or £320 million per season, which represents a significant increase over the £246 million per season that the broadcaster is currently paying. That’s 71 per cent more than was paid last time – 3.018 billion in 2013.
With such huge sums of money being thrown at football, will regular fans be able to afford to get a look in? Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore thinks so.
“Last season saw record levels of attendance with the highest top-flight crowds since 1949-50, as well as increased viewing figures across all our UK rights holders,” said Scudamore.
Check out our guide to getting the complete Premier League season on TV“Both Sky Sports and BT Sport have done a tremendous job in bringing the game to the fans as well as providing the revenue that allows clubs to invest in football, facilities, youth development and their communities.
“It is an endorsement of what the Barclays Premier League delivers that these broadcast partnerships have been extended and enhanced today. We are grateful for the continued belief that Sky Sports and BT Sport have in the Premier League and our clubs, both as a sporting competition and organisations to work with.”
Mr Scudamore’s delight is unlikely to be shared by hundreds of thousands of match-attending football fans though, who will doubtless be forced to bear the brunt of rising ticket prices associated with the game becoming increasingly valuable.
Folk who can no longer afford to attend games will, at least, be able to spectate from home, though the cost of doing that is rising too.
Currently, the cheapest package on BT, which covers both BT Sport and Sky Sports 1 & 2, works out to around £52 a month. The offering doesn’t include Sky Sports in HD, but does cover BT’s own channels in high definition.
Sky’s alternative comes in a bit higher, at £62 a month, but has the advantage of offering both lots of sport channels in HD.
Ofcom is currently investigating the way in which rights to Premier League games are sold, following a complaint from Virgin Media.
The English Premier League is considered the worst value for money league in Europe. Because a blackout stops 3:00pm Saturday games from being broadcast, only around 40 per cent of Premier League games are actually shown live.